Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grand Ma's Hundred Year Anniversary

So I just got a new toy in today that I really enjoyed: Grand Marnier's Cuvee du Centenaire.

This product in my mind is nothing short of amazing, albeit this is coming from a huge fan of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge.  It's orange notes are significantly more intense, and the spice creeps through a little more than the Cordon Rouge.  The Cuvee Du Centenaire tastes almost like a Grand Marnier reduction and if it were not for the nose through the snifter reminding me there was still 40% ABV, I would find it hard to believe that this product contained any alcohol.  It flirts with being almost too sweet and walks the line perfectly.

I'm a huge fan of French connections and often enjoy them as dessert or a nightcap, as they keep the Cordon Rouge flavor and mellow it out with rich Cognac.  So I started thinking right after my first sip how this would go in a connection.  I typically use a VS Cognac in my Cordon Rouge Connections, but with the heavy sweetness of the Cuvee Du Centenaire I decided to go with a drier VSOP.  I would typically think it blasphemous to mix such a stellar product, but I went ahead and did so to satisfy my curiosity.

Cuvee Connection
1 Part Grand Marnier Cuvee Du Centenaire
1 Part Remy Martin VSOP

I'm a big fan of the Remy VSOP and it Paired great with the Cuvee Du Centenaire, as it dried it out just enough while leaving distinctively Cuvee Du Centenaire.  This Cocktail is extremely well balanced and takes away the overly sweet tones that masked the complexity of the Cuvee Du Centenaire.  The only negative about this cocktail is that it made me want to find a dark corner and take a nap.

All in all I'm pretty impressed by this offering and would definitely recommend it to somebody wanting to branch out from the Cordon Rouge.

Until next time, Sante!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


What's Corgan Season you ask!?  Why it's the time of the year that Pumpkin seasonal beers are around and allow for one of my favorite shots of all time to be enjoyed: The Billy Corgan and the Headless Horseman, or Corgan for short.  The Corgan is one of my seasonal twists on the  always delectable Irish Carbomb, I like to describe it as a pumkin pie explosion in your mouth.  Named after the Billy Corgan the lead singer of the Smashing Pumpkins, and the Headless Horseman gracing the bottle of the Shipyard Pumpkinhead.  The recipe is as Follows:

Billy Corgan and the Headless Horseman
1/2 Shipyard Pumpkinhead
1/2 Shot Voyant Chai Liqueur
1/2 Shot Licor 43

In Carbomb Fashion pour 1/2 of a glass of Shipyard Pumpkinhead into a pint glass.  Fill the shot glass and bomb it into the beer and let the good times roll!  Seriously Corgan season is one of my favorite times of the year!  On the first day of Corgan season this year I gleefully grabbed a warm Pumpkinhead off of our first delivery and poured myself and my fellow manager a warm one and had a Corgan for breakfast (I later realized this was a bad idea, but hey Corgan season only comes once a year!...and this type of behavior is perfectly acceptable in my line of work, go ahead and try that at your job)

The first Corgan was created 3 years ago while playing around with seasonal drinks with two of my Co-workers Wesley Graham and Eddie Garton.  We were working on perfecting a Pumpkin Pie martini with Voyant and Licor 43 among other ingredients and were having trouble getting enough Pumpkin flavor.  I had the revelation to go the bomb route with the Pumpkinhead to get a ton of pumpkin flavor.  And so Corgan season was born, and has since been celebrated every fall at Sharab in gleeful fashion.

Speaking of Pumpkin Beers I figured I'd go off on a bit of a rant and review my top three of this season's product offerings.

It was hard to choose a favorite this season as there were some solid offerings on the market, but my top choice was the Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale.  I feel that this beer was the best rounded of the lot offering a great alcohol content of 8.8%ABV and plenty of seasonally spicy body with just the right amount of sweetness.  A 22oz bottle will run you around $6-$8, and will do the job pretty well.  Check out the rest of Southern Tier's awesome portfolio at www.southerntierbrewing.com.

My second Choice this year would have to be Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.  Its still a hefty brew tipping the scales at 7% ABV, but its a bit on the dry side, not quite as sweet as the Pumking with a little subtler notes of spice than the Pumking.  All and all this beer is great, it doesn't sit quite as heavy as the Pumking.  The fact that it is a bit drier and more subtle on the flavor gives it a lot more versatility in pairing it with food.  Its also nice that it comes in a 4-pack of 12oz bottles for under $10, allowing me to enjoy a beer without a solid buzz. Check out the rest of Dogfish Heads product offerings including one of my favorites the 120 Minute IPA at www.dogfish.com.

Third Place goes to the Shipyard's Pumpkinhead Ale.  It's not as heavy as the other two at a mere 5.1% ABV and its also significantly sweeter which makes it absolutely perfect for Corgans.  The notes of spice come through great with the sweetness and make this beer perfectly refreshing for a hot Florida October day.  The Pumpkinhead is by far the cheapest of the 3 coming in a 6 pack of 12oz bottles for under $9.  The one big problem with this beer is that it always leaves you craving another one, which makes it despite its lower ABV just as dangerous as the other two.  Check out the rest of The Shipyard's beers at www.shipyard.com.

And as always remember: beer before liquor, never been sicker.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Be sure to have a cold one with the Turkey and Football!


Blast From the Past

Back In March Gainesville Magazine did an Article on Spring Cocktails and featured an old family recipe of mine and one of my personal creations.  They did the Shoot at Sharab Lounge and were sweet enough to let me grace the pages of their magazine. Check it out.

The Swamp Collins is actually better know as a Buzzy Bucket in my Family; where they are enjoyed at my extended family's annual reunion/shitshow vacation at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.  The Buzzy bucket was both named after and Invented by my Uncle Dwight, who earned the name Buzzy from enjoying a few too many gin buckets himself.  The Buzzy Buckets typically make their way out after a day day of B&B (not Benedictine and Brandy, but Beer and Boating) so they tend to make things pretty interesting.  The buckets are typically passed around whilst sitting dockside as an accoutrement to whatever light beer is being enjoyed and always ensure good stories the next morning/afternoon.  So as an homage to Dwight and to let the patrons of Sharab enjoy this tasty treat I slimmed it down to a single serving with this recipe:

The Swamp Collins
2oz Magellan Gin
2 Barspoons of Powdered Sugar
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Juice of 1/2 Lime
1-2 Drops of Vanilla Extract
Top with Sprite

I definitely recommend the Magellan as the Gin of Choice for this cocktail as it's flavor profile is perfectly suited for citrusy and sweet additions, not only that but it gives the Cocktail that sexy blue hue.  If you are feeling adventurous enough feel free to ask for it in its original bucket form.

The Brazilian Daiquiri was one of my initial ventures into the world of cachaca a few years back and has been a go to cocktail of mine.  It's a heavy hitter thats strong, sweet, and unique that goes down a little too easy.  My personal favorite cachaca to use is Moleca, the Gold if you can find it.  The Moleca has a great heavy and sweet body that really pops when its mixed with citrus, and its extremely smooth from being double distilled.  I prefer it greatly over the likes of Sagatiba, Boca Loca, Leblon, and Cachaca 51.  My recipe is as follows:

The Brazilian Daiquiri
2oz Moleca Cachaca
1oz Fragoli Italian Strawberry Liqueur
Juice of 1/2 Lime
A Light Splash of Simple Syrup
A Light Squeeze of Strawberry Puree

I typically build the drink in a shaker and shake the hell out of it to completely break up the strawberries from the Fragoli and serve in a pint or collins glass.

Until next time Saude!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My First Rodeo

Well maybe it wasn't a rodeo, but it was my first bartending competition.  It was the Harlem Make your Best Shot Competition.  Which was a nationwide circuit to find some of the best shots using Harlem Kruiden Liqueur put on by the Tasting Panel Magazine.  Mixologists from around the Country competed to have their shot named the best.

If you aren't familiar with Harlem it's a Kruiden Liqueur,  Kruiden being Dutch for Herbal, distilled and bottled by the Nolet Family, the same family that has been crafting Ketel One Vodka for the last 300+ Years.  I like to describe Harlem bluntly as Grand Marnier with balls.  It's 80 proof with heavy notes of orange and spice, and lacks the in your face anise and syrupiness ever prevalent in Jagermeister. If you haven't tried Harlem I personally reccommend you go out and try an ice cold straight shot or try any of your favorite mixed Jagermeister shots and have your mind blown.  Check them out online at www.harlemshots.com.

I competed in South Beach with some of Florida's best talent and entered  the competition with my shot: Duchess.   This being my first competition I didn't want to enter with anything too crazy or unrealistic for your typical bartender to be able to whip up, but in hindsight it sure would have helped me score better with the judges...

4 Parts Harlem
2 Parts Fragoli Italian Strawberry Liqueur
1 Part St. Germaine
Fresh Lime Zest

Simply combine all the spirits in a shaker filled with ice and zest a couple swipes off a fresh lime making sure to get as much of the oils as possible directly into the shaker.  Shake it like a polaroid and double strain it into a chilled shot glass making sure to remove all of the zest to prevent it from getting stuck in your teeth!

I made Duchess to play off the soft side of Harlem, sweeting it up slightly while leaving the shot distinctively Harlem.  I took second Place in both the Judges voting and as the crowd favorite missing 1st place in both categories by a hair.  My highlight of the trip was when Anthony Dias Blue, the editor of the Tasting Panel Magazine, told me that Duchess in his mind was the best Harlem shot that he had had to date. Not bad for my first attempt.  Don't just take his or my word for it and be sure to try out both Harlem and a Duchess for yourself, and check out the winners' recipes in the Tasting Panel's November issue at www.tastingpanelmag.com, and be sure to follow Harlem at www.harlemshots.com/harlemblog.  Check me out rocking the purple in the picture above with the rest of the Florida competitors.

Until next time, Proost!


It Starts

Well so here it is my first post.  I’ve started this blog to share my passion for fine wine, spirits, well-crafted cocktails, and great food. 

So a little about myself…I am a Co-founder of The Sharab Lounge, one of Central Florida’s leading cocktail bars.  I pride myself on my passion and creativity, and it definitely helps that I have access to one of the largest liquor selections in the state.  If you’re ever in Gainesville, come check Sharab out and see me for a mind blowing cocktail! Check us out online at www.sharablounge.com.  

Check back in for future posts showcasing some of my personal creations, insights on beverage products, and some amazing recipes that I stumble upon along the way.